Two-year-old Patrick Bibbee of Columbus doesn’t say much, but he delivered a powerful message to members of Ohio’s congressional delegation: Children’s hospitals deserve support.
Patrick, high-spirited and full of energy, spent the first six months of his life at Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus. On Tuesday his mother, Amanda, a Springfield native, and father, Shannon, roamed Capitol Hill with Nationwide representatives to urge continued backing for children’s hospitals.
Nationwide “did everything they could” for her son, said Amanda, 30. “And look at him now.”
Patrick and his twin sister, Paige, were born prematurely – at 23 weeks gestation. Paige struggled from the start, developing a condition called necrotizing enterocolitis, where parts of the bowel begin to die. Patrick had the condition, too, but not as severely.
The twins were transferred after their birth to Nationwide. Doctors tried, but could not save Paige. Patrick, meanwhile, endured nine surgeries, including surgeries on his bowels, eye and heart. While Amanda stayed at the hospital around-the-clock, Shannon, 36, an Army reservist, was deployed to Iraq.
Shannon said he had the option of not being deployed after his children were born so early. But he opted to do so, he said, because being deployed meant his family was covered by TRICARE, the military health insurance rather than a private insurer that would charge copays and other fees. His deployment also meant a pay raise – one that allowed Amanda to quit her job and devote her time solely to Patrick’s care.
Shannon said part of the reason he came to Washington was to emphasize the importance military health insurance played in Patrick’s recovery. He estimated it paid for about $2 million worth of care.
He also expressed gratitude for a bill, introduced by Rep. Steve Stivers, R-Upper Arlington, that further improved TRICARE’s coverage of military children. That bill became law with last year’s National Defense Authorization Act.
During his visit, Patrick charmed Rep. Joyce Beatty, toddling over to hand her a baseball card with his picture on the front. Then he clapped his hands in glee.
“This is a miracle,” said Beatty, a former Dayton resident who represents a Columbus-area district in Congress. “And we want more of these miracles.”